There are seven dementia stages I will cover briefly here for a complete dementia overview. These stages of dementia are a scale used by health care professionals. For simplicity, the lay person will hear or read about only three stages of dementia. There is early onset dementia, middle stage dementia and end stage dementia. These are the stages an individual will experience with a progressive and untreatable form of dementia.
I will go into more detail about these three levels, as each stage will present different and new challenges. I will help you to anticipate those challenges and educate you on how you, as a caregiver, can provide care and advocate for the aging senior inflicted with dementia.
Let’s do a brief dementia overview of the seven stages
Stage 1 – No impairment –able to function normally
Stage 2 – Minimal cognitive decline –starts to have problems remembering words and where common objects are placed. This is the early signs of dementia.
Stage 3 – Mild cognitive decline- difficulties retrieving new information. Difficulty with planning, organizing and performance at work or with things at home becomes more noticeable.
Stage 4 – Moderate cognitive decline – short term memory is compromised. The individual is unable to plan and organize more complex tasks, such as planning a grocery list and cook a meal. Will begin to become socially withdrawn and avoid challenging situations.
Stage 5 – Moderately severe cognitive decline- this is the beginning of what we will refer to the middle stages of dementia. Experiences poor memory recall about personal information, becomes confused and disoriented about time and location. The individual begins to need assistance, in making appropriate clothes choices, to dress for the weather or a special occasion.
Is still able to feed and toilet self and retain knowledge of family member’s names and faces.
Stage 6 - Severe cognitive decline – This is considered a middle stage level of dementia. The challenges become more difficult as major and unpleasant personality changes can occur. There is an increase in the amount of care required. At this stage, assistance is needed for most activities of daily living. The sleep/ wake cycle will begin to be affected. At this stage, an individual will have frequent episodes of incontinence. This is a stage where wandering can occur and individuals may become suspicious, accusatory and develop repetitive behaviors.
Stage 7 - Very severe cognitive decline- This is the end stage of dementia. The individual is no longer able to respond to the environment, control physical movement and becomes unable to verbally communicate. Inability to eat of swallow may occur. Let’s begin our journey into the challenges we face caring for someone with dementia at home. It is possible to provide care at home through all of these dementia stages, but it is important to be knowledgeable about the disease process.
The caregiver will...
As a caregiver, you will share moment’s of lucidity with your aging senior. This will give you a sense of hope that there will be a change and recovery will take place. Those moments of lucidity are followed by eyes filled with emptiness and the person you once knew has been lost to you again. Some care givers grieve the loss of the person they are caring for everyday.
It is important to understand that with progressive dementia, there is no improvement going to be made: only good moments and bad ones and a slow steady decline.
Let’s explore what to expect as a care giver in the different dementia stages.